OUTRAGED residents have voiced their dismay at the news that the Royal Bank of Scotland is to close its Stewarton branch.

Customers of the RBS in Lainshaw Street say the forthcoming closure of the bank is a devastating blow to the town.

But banking bosses defended their decision saying a downturn in customer use means the bank will close on October 28.

Residents took to the Stewarton’s Voice Facebook page to describe their anger at the closure.

Jaimie Hamilton said: “This is a big let down for me as I use that branch twice a week. I don’t drive and ain’t that often in Kilmarnock or Glasgow to do my business. Really disappointing and I’m sure I’m not the only one in this situation.” Walter Mary Dean agreed: “Agree with all above comments been regular customer since we came to Stewarton 36 years ago. The staff throughout the years have always been friendly and helpful. Will certainly be missed.” Meemo McPhail said: “I’m really disappointed at this decision. It’s great wee branch. Staff are lovely and happily go the extra mile for clients, which is greatly appreciated. A proper ‘local’ service. What an absolute shame to close it.” Kirsten Cowling added: “Really disappointed and said so to the staff today. Perhaps the reason they were losing customers was because their opening hours were getting shorter and shorter. Sadly, I suspect I will be jumping ship. I want a local bank thats open every working banking day.” A spokesman for RBS said: “We have taken the difficult decision to close the RBS Stewarton branch on October 28, 2015.

“The number of transactions taking place at Stewarton branch has dropped by 24 per cent since 2011 and only 51 customers use the branch on a regular weekly basis. Eighteen of these customers already use other branches in the area.

“We are committed to following the UK Government protocol on branch closures, and we have made the decision following careful consideration of a wide range of factors including branch usage and the alternative ways our customers can bank with us locally.

“Our customers are increasingly using alternative ways to bank with them such as online and mobile banking. As a result, branch transactions have declined by around 36 per cent since 2010 whilst online and mobile transactions have grown by more than 300 per cent. Only nine per cent of their total transactions are now undertaken in branches in comparison to 25 per cent in 2010. “We are writing to all of our customers who use the branch, as well as displaying posters in branch to let them know of the closure.

“Between now and the closure date, we will engage with all of our customers, local businesses and the wider local community to make sure they are aware of the alternative ways of accessing their banking with us in the local area, and to answer any questions they might have.

“We are working hard to ensure there are a number of alternative ways for people in the area to continue to bank with us.We have reached an agreement with the local Post Office, which close to the branch so that our customers can check their balance, deposit and withdraw funds, and business customers can get coinage. There are four Post Offices within five miles of the branch. “We intend to retain our ATM in the local community, and there are also three other free to use ATMs within one mile of the branch.

“We are introducing a Mobile Branch service to the community and we will be engaging with our customers and the local community to understand the best day and time for the mobile branch to visit.

“There are three other branches within 10 miles. Our nearest branch, Kilmarnock Central, is six-and-a-half miles away.”